Steven Furtick - Forward Not Finished
The Lord told me to preach this today, "there's so much more to the story", that's my sermon. There's so much more to the story - that's it. There's so much more to the story. Get this in your spirit, I'm gonna be preaching it through each Easter. There's so much more. It starts today, you came on the right day, God sent you here on the right day, God put you online at the right time. There's so much more. There's so much more to the story.
Let's go to the Word of God. The Word of God is powerful. The Word of God is eternal. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord is the story that will forever be told, and it will forever be true, it will forever be real, and it will forever be powerful. The Lord gave me seven sermons this week. My next seven sermons are going to come from my personal time with him that he gave me. I asked him if I could share it publicly, and he gave me permission. I could not be more excited. I don't put on a cardigan for just any occasion. I'm pumped up about it. If you were wondering if God is finished with you today, well, this should be more than a confirmation. I've never had a sermon the Lord confirmed more than this one. Ever. And I've been doing this since I was 16. I've never had one that God showed me so many different ways what he wanted me to preach.
What I think is there must be something you've been going through or needing from him, and he wants to get it to you, so he just put it through my thick skull that I need to preach it, starting today, and I'm going to do it like he gave it to me. Deuteronomy, chapter 34. Y'all didn't shout when I said, "Deuteronomy". Y'all wanted Ephesians, but we've got Deuteronomy today. Welcome to our eFam around the world. I want everybody to make this affirmation really quickly. Just make it with your mouth or type it if you're online. Say, "With God there's always a way". The Lord gave me that yesterday. I was talking to somebody about what they were going through. I don't know if she thought it was weird, but I was like, "Repeat after me". I went into Pastor Steve mode. I said, "Repeat after me".
Now you do it too. "With God there's always a way…" Now finish this, because this is the best part of it: "…and by faith I will find it". Do you feel that? It makes my spine tingle. Say it again. "With God there's always a way, and by faith I will find it". I hope you're putting that in the chat. Let the Devil know. You might not be in the building, but you're in the Spirit, and God is here. Anything is possible. Who am I to deny what the Lord can do? If he wants to heal you, let him through. If he wants to redeem what you've given up on, let him through. If he wants to give you wisdom for stuff you think you're too stupid to know, let him through. If he wants to give you a job or a position you're not qualified for on paper, let him through. If he wants to make the next 10 years of your life better than the last 10, let him through. Who are you to tell him "No"? Thank you, Jesus.
Read the Scripture, Steven. Chapter 34, verse 5: "And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died…" I know I said, "Old is the goal," but I don't want to be around when… I don't care what artificial legs they make. Elon Musk might put artificial knees, or something like that, on me, but I don't want it. Not that long. Watch what the Bible says. This is kind of sad. "Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone". We kind of want to shout on that, but think about it. It's really sad. It's not something to shout about. It's something to cry about, because it means there was still more in him.
So, Moses died there, and he still could see, and he was still strong, but he stopped trusting God, so he couldn't go into the Promised Land. The Lord takes him up on this high mountain called Nebo, and he says, "Do you see all that? Do you see past the Mediterranean? Do you see Jericho? Joshua is going to fight that battle, not you. I could have used you, but because you broke faith with me and didn't honor me enough…" The Lord said, "You're done". That's a bad thing, because when God says it's done… You can sing, "You're not done with me yet". If the Lord says, "Oh, yes, I am," you're done. I was going through criticism one time in ministry, and Joyce Meyer told me, "Well, Steven, if the Lord is done with you, there ain't nothing you can do about it. You might as well trust him and go forward". I was like, "Yes, ma'am".
Now watch this. "The Israelites grieved for Moses…" They didn't know where his grave was, but they grieved for him, because God took him and hid the body somewhere. I'm telling you, the Bible is so much of a better story than you think. The Bible is better than Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. The Bible has all that stuff in it, dead people walking around, and all of that…hiding bodies. Who needs Gus Fring when you've got God? I'm having fun. I'm fired up. This is my first sermon of my eighteenth year of pastoring this church. I'm ready to preach. "They grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days…" One month. "…until the time of weeping and mourning was over".
The series I'm starting today is called There's So Much More to the Story, but the message today and the word of the Lord for you is Forward Not Finished. I have to be careful, because I'll have y'all here past kickoff. You won't be home until Rihanna is on the stage if I preach it like I feel it. Forward. "Where are you going"? "Forward". "You've got it figured out"? "No, but I'm going forward". "Do you know what it's going to be like when you get there"? "No, but I'm going forward not finished". In Jesus' name, sit down. I dedicate these next seven sermons to my oldest son Elijah. If it were not for him, I would not be inspired to preach this. I'll explain that to you in a few moments. I've never dedicated a series, but I dedicate this to my oldest boy. Thank you.
You know what? I think sad scenes sometimes are necessary for the best stories to be told and unfold. I read that chapter. It's actually what I read last Sunday before I came over to our anniversary. I had a note. I thought, "Well, I preached Ephesians 4. Whoever wanted to leave the church because they don't want to be challenged is already gone," because I was saying stuff the last few weeks that I was like, "Are they going to throw something at me"? Telling you, "Come on, man. Live like you know God. Stop just rolling around in your sin and calling that grace. Get up and do something with it for the Lord. I mean, we all suck sometimes, but you've been in a suck season for four years. Let's go".
Forward! Moving into it. Walking on with what I've got. I have to move on, as a pastor, with the church I have after a pandemic. You have to move on in the season of your life that you're in with the strength you have, Gideon; with the instruments you have, Moses (staff); with the rock you have, David; with the disciples you have, Jesus (Judas). Can I get another one? Peter. Can I get another one? All of them might fail you, but you have to do it if the Lord called you to do it. When I read this last Sunday before I came over, I had a little note that my next teachings should be There's So Much More to the Story. You know, there always is. If I could teach you anything… Don't believe anything you hear and only about half of what you see.
Isn't it true when you hear stuff about people, especially now… I mean, we used to have to say stuff to somebody, but now we can just say something about somebody instead of to somebody. It has never been harder… This is not my message, and this is my soapbox, so I need to be very careful that I don't waste time on this, but there's more to the story. Well, that little line we were singing from Ephesians 3:20, "You are more than able," and just confessing, "There's so much more to the story" is certainly true of this Bible. I think it's like 1,189 chapters. I'm not exactly sure. In this Bible that we read, as Christians, it has the first five books called the Pentateuch. Penta is five. The pentatonic scale in music is five notes. So, that's what I was reading last week when I came to church. I had a preacher in.
Now, remember, this is my daily Bible reading. Let me just tell you personally. I was going to save it until the end, but I think it'll be good to help you see why this is important to me. Last year, Elijah, my oldest, says to me, "Dad, the book of Genesis is really weird". He had been reading through a chapter a day with Kelsey. They were going through the Bible a chapter a day. Every day he comes to me and is like, "It's getting weirder. Crazy stuff is happening". You're like, "That's sacrilegious. The Bible isn't weird; it's holy". You haven't read it. You just pluck little verses out. I can tell what you are. You have that little "verse of the day" app thing. You just read the ones you want to read. You really read it…incest… The Bible is not PG-13. I think it's always funny when people are like, "Oh, I don't think that was appropriate to put in a sermon. That was very adult".
I need a grown-up God because I'm fighting grown-up challenges in a hell-bent world. The Devil has been running stuff long enough, because the Devil will talk about it, but we won't. I feel people pucker up every time I say weird stuff in church, like, "Hey, the Lord can accept you and use you even if you were up until 3:30 last night looking at stuff online". I feel people go, "No, he can't". They don't say it, but I can feel it. Anyway, Elijah said, "The book of Genesis is getting weird". I said, "Well, what chapter are you on"? He said the chapter. I looked it up that night, and it was a very difficult chapter, so I sent a text to him and Kelsey. I said, "Hey, so, I read that chapter y'all are on, and this is just one thought out of the chapter".
I sent them a little sentence and said, "Here's a key verse from that chapter that kind of makes the whole rest of it make a little bit of sense, something we can practice in our lives". Then I did it the next day because they texted me back. They made me feel like I was Saint Augustine. They made me feel like Billy Graham. They were like, "Oh my god"! There were, like, seven mind blown emojis. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to do that again. I feel affirmed by this". I sent it back. The next night, another one. "Oh my god! This is even better. This is incredible. This helps us so much. Thank you".
The next night, I actually officialized it, and I changed the name of the group thread text thing. It took me an hour to figure out how to do that because I'm old. Old is the goal. That's my whole goal in life. I want to be old enough where I don't know how to work this text message machine, like Moses. So I changed the name, and I called our text the "Read the Bible in Four Years Club". I did a little bit of the math, and if we only read a chapter a day, it'll be like four years to read the whole Bible that way. I told Elijah… I'm like, "We've got to go faster, man. I've got to get to Matthew. I cannot be stuck over here in Leviticus for this long. It's too long". He's like, "No, Dad. I really want to see what the Bible is all about. That's why I started the club". I'm like, "All right. You're the president. I'm just the secretary/treasurer. You do the key verse this week".
So he did the one the next night, and it was good. Not as good as mine. I've been doing this a long time. But he did pretty well. Then Kelsey did one. Pretty good. Then it was back to me, him, Kelsey…boom, boom, boom. So we're moving. We're moving through Exodus. We're moving through Leviticus. About halfway through Leviticus, Elijah goes, "This is crazy. The Bible is so much better when you actually read it as a story instead of just selections that you take like a little shot," like a B12 shot to get you through the day. I have a B3 shot to get you through the week if you need it, if I preach good. (That's what that organ is called: the B3. Show them how it sounds, LJ. We can do it in a minute. Stop.)
So, he said, "It's so much better". He said, "I've got so much invested in the Israelites now. I want to see what happens". I'm like, "Uh-oh. This is not the winning team you want to cheer for," because I know they screw it up at every turn. Even when they get into the Promised Land, they just have to be like the Canaanites. They just have to intermarry. They just have to go worship these other gods. So now they go into captivity two different times. Even when Jesus came… So I'm like, "Uh-oh. This is a roller coaster, man. Hang in there". But we've been doing it, and guess what. This year, at the beginning of the year, we accepted our first new member on a trial basis to the book of Deuteronomy. Holly is now a part of the Read the Bible in Four Years Club.
Last Sunday, we finished Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy, chapter 34, was the last one. I read it, and I was like, "This is so sad, dude. Moses is up on a mountain…" Isn't that a horrible thing that you can see something God wants to give you, but you can't bring it into reality? I'd rather not even know God promised it to me than to hear people talk about it and to see people walk in it. "Their marriage seems happy, and their kids are in church with them. I can't get my kid to come to church. And there's old Pastor Steve up there talking about a Bible club with his boy. That must be nice". You know, you can see things, but you only see scenes; you don't know stories. You don't know the story. There's so much more to the story.
Elijah said somebody told him the other day Justin Bieber was at our house for the weekend. I said, "It would have been nice to know. I'd have made him sing on Sunday. I'd have put him up on 'Jireh.'" I don't know Justin Bieber. Who makes this stuff up? Where does this stuff come from? "Did God really say, 'You must not eat of any tree in the garden'"? "As a matter of fact, he didn't, Serpent, Devil. He said we can eat any tree, just not one". But you see how the spin gets you in a story, and there's so much more to the story. I always listen to people these days kind of imagining what the other person might say if they were there to defend themselves. I know there's more to the story. Now, in defense of Moses… "Come on. I did good. I led these rebellious, stiff-necked people for 40 years".
You think you would have done better? You're only 40 days into the new year, and you've broken every New Year's resolution you have and three from your neighbors. There's more to the story. You know, just to read it as, "Hey, Moses died because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and he couldn't go into the Promised Land because he didn't have faith…" That is a summary, but it's not the story. Little sidenote: don't trust the summary. Parenting note: when your kid comes home and says, "That teacher just told me to sit down and shut up, and I didn't do anything…" You believe that from your kid? "That's my baby". Yeah, that's your baby, and your baby is full of… Your baby has some BS (Blanket Statements). So, to say Moses still died with more in him is a little bit of a blanket statement, because he did a lot.
In fact, the writer of Deuteronomy, who some believe was Moses, said, "And nobody ever did more for God than Moses". It also says he was the humblest man who ever lived. So, if he wrote that, then that's very paradoxical, ironic, and funny to me. So, the Lord takes him up on a mountain. He spent the whole book of Deuteronomy giving a speech. You know, "Make sure that when God brings you into the land, you are the kind of person who can sustain the blessing he wants to give you so that you don't receive the blessing and sabotage it because of selfishness, because of a lack of focus, and because of a lack of gratitude".
The Lord takes Moses up on a mountain. We've seen Moses go on mountains before. When he went up, he always came down with something important. God calls him up on a mountain. He's up there 40 days and comes down with the Ten Commandments to find the children of Israel dancing around a golden calf. When he confronted them about it, the leader said, "Oh, yeah. I threw some stuff in the fire, and the cow came out". I think there's probably more to the story. Do you know what I'm saying? "Aaron, come on, man. I was born on a day, but it wasn't yesterday. Come on, man. This is crazy". He breaks the tablets and has to go back and get them. When Moses goes on the mountain, he always comes back down.
So, Moses goes up on the mountain this time. He already knows God is not going to let him go into the next level of leadership. That's going to be Joshua's job, Joshua being one of the only 2 spies of the 12 who believed God could do what he said he could do. That's why he gets to go in, and that's why he gets to lead. The people are all waiting, no doubt, for Moses to come down. Even though he told them, "I'm not coming back because God is not going to let me do it," don't you think they probably had a hard time believing that? Don't you think that when he didn't come down at first… They've experienced so much grace from God that they think, "Surely, if anybody can get God to change his mind, it's Moses". He did that one time.
God told Moses, "I'm going to kill all of them and give you a new nation. We'll start all over, you and me, and do it better this time". Moses said, "But then you won't get the glory. If you destroy your people, what will happen to your name? Everybody will hear about that". God said, "All right. I'll forgive them because you asked". This time, he's not coming back down. How long would it take to accept that if you were one of them? How long does it take us in seasons of transition in our own lives to accept "It's not going to be like it was"? I can keep trying to make it like it was. I can keep wishing it had gone differently than it did.
I can keep on talking about "When I was in high school, you should have seen me on Friday night. Man, I was the man back then". You can buy the same car you had back then, but some of the stuff won't work under the hood. I'm going to stop right there because this is one of those "pucker up" moments that y'all give me. There is a moment in your life where you must realize, "Moses is not coming back down this time". Have you been there? I have in the last few years. I have been reckoning with some realities in my own life that I have to change, because things are changing, God is moving, and the world is changing, and if I stay where I am, I will miss what God wants to do in the place he has already prepared for me. It's not so much about changing situations. I haven't really thought about doing a new job. I don't want to start a new church. I love this one.
I don't know how you could ever have a better church to pastor than Elevation Church. I mean, come on, man. Where in the world would I go after this? When I finish this, I want God to do for me what he did for Moses and just kill me and hide me somewhere, whenever he wants me to be done with this, because this is amazing. But sometimes, in order to change your story, God has to change your point of view. Have you ever had something that happened in your life (let's get really practical) where you saw it one way while it was going down, and you saw it a completely different way when you looked back on it? Raise your hand. (I need to make sure y'all are awake. I'm doing some heavy Old Testament teaching today.) Have you ever had that happen before, where you looked back on it later and said, "Oh, that was actually not a blessing; that was a trap"? Or it could go the other way too. "Oh, that wasn't actually a tragedy; that was a blessing". It can happen both ways.
Two things change the story, and one is time. Time changes the way you see the story. That's why I always like to encourage you: don't give your testimony too soon. I mean, you can tell people, "Jesus died for me, and I accepted him into my heart," that part of it, but don't tell your testimony too soon, because you might leave out the part God is getting to that you don't know about yet. He's the author and the finisher of your faith. Don't close the Bible in Leviticus and say, "This book is weird". Nuh-uh. There's so much more to the story. Don't close your heart. Don't close your mind. Don't come out of the prayer closet. Don't come out of faith. Don't come out of the waters of change, because God is still writing your story. Say it. "God is still writing my story". But Moses is gone.
Some of the characters are going to exit. Some of the realities are going to change. That's why I'm thankful we serve a generational God. We tend to have situational faith. When everything feels a certain way, we can really move in it. "Oh, when everything is just like this…" How many people have I heard say, "I'm going to start being more generous when I get a better job with better pay". That is situational faith. How many people have I heard say, "Well, I'm going to be nice to her when she starts respecting me more". That is situational faith. That is not the love of God. That is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God calls things that be not as though they were, because he's a generational God. He was God of a nation when he only had one man named Abraham. I promise you everything under Abraham's hood was not working right.
Even if it was, Sarah's womb was dead, so he had no chance, but God did it, because he's a generational God. He's a generational God in the sense that what he started in the beginning with Adam he recreated in Christ, who is the second Adam. We could not do it by the works of the law, so God took that book that stood against us, put it on Jesus who knew no sin, and he made him who knew no sin to be sin that we might become the righteousness of God. So, don't ever say this little church phrase: "I'm just a sinner saved by grace". You ain't just nothin' but somebody who Jesus thought was worth dying for. You ain't just nothin' but a new creation, a masterpiece. He's still writing your story. Moses died, but God didn't. They walked out, but God didn't. You got fired, but God didn't. He still has the same job he had before you ever got to earth. He runs stuff.
I need us to praise God that he runs stuff. I promise I tried to run stuff, and I ran out of strength to do it, so then I had to lift my eyes to the hills and remember where my help comes from. I have a God who runs stuff. God doesn't check forecasts to see if it's a good time for him to do it or to move. God runs stuff. God doesn't consult human agendas or political offices to see if it would be a good time to demonstrate his power. He doesn't check your age or your height or your weight or your experience. God runs stuff. He is God! He's generational in the sense that his faithfulness continues through generations and in the sense that he generates, he starts, he's the source of your life. "Moses, my servant, is dead".
I'm almost ready to preach now. Wasn't that a good introduction? Y'all clap for my introduction. In a book they have the foreword, but it's not spelled like going forward. It's spelled with W-O-R-D because it's the word that comes before the book. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". And what does he do? He runs stuff. So, the Lord said, "I'm closing down Moses Incorporated, and I'm establishing a new enterprise called Joshua…Incorporated". I thought something would come. You have no idea how many things I start to say and hope something comes to me while I'm in the middle of saying it. Usually it does, but that time it didn't. You know what? I'm actually going to use that to preach what I'm telling you. I have to go forward not finished.
After I have studied everything I can study, after I have written everything I can write, I have to stand up here… I'm not preaching about preaching; I'm preaching about life and purpose. After I have done all I can, I have to stand, therefore, and trust that God is enough, and so do you. "Oh man. When I get my act together…" I wonder how many of y'all were thinking about leading an eGroup this last semester, and you thought, "Well, I don't know if I'm one to lead an eGroup. It's not like I really know the Bible that well". Well, that's how you're going to learn it. You need something to study for, and if people are coming over to your house Tuesday at 6:30, you're going to have to pick it up. I don't like to admit this, but I don't even know if I'd live right if I didn't have to preach every Sunday. That's a horrible thing to admit.
I want to do it just because I love Jesus and he loves me and great is his love and his mercy and all the little children of the world, but there's a part of me that knows I have to look at y'all, and it's a lot of y'all. Every seven days, I have to say something. It keeps me close to God, or it keeps me from going too far before he yanks me back. I think you need the same thing in your life, something you're moving toward. Forward. I know you have a lot of money now. Aren't you cute? You have 401(k)s and all of that stuff, and two houses, and you think you're done? How dumb are you, dude? You need to read Luke 12. The man had so much grain. He was like, "What do I do now"?
Well, let me help you figure it out. You have too much money? I can help you with that money. I can alleviate that problem. He said, "I think I'll build bigger barns, store more up for myself," and he was never conscious of God. The Lord said, "You fool. You think you're done just because you have stuff"? If your goal is to be done, you need to die. You know, we do goal setting in the new year. I'm going to run a goal-setting workshop. "I just want to be done. I want to be finished. I just want to be done with all of this". Okay. Here is your task list: die, and you'll be done, but until then, there's more. There's more to your story. I like to listen to these motivational speakers, because preachers need motivation too.
One guy was saying, "The most expensive piece of real estate…" Have you ever heard this before? The most valuable piece of real estate in the world is not in Manhattan, not in Singapore, not in Dubai. The most valuable piece of real estate in the world is the cemetery, because there you will find buried symphonies that were unfinished, works that were undone, cures that were undiscovered. Moses died still seeing, still strong. God said, "If you don't trust me enough to go forward, I can't bring you into what you won't believe me for". Let me say that again. That was anointed. God can't bring you into what you won't believe him for. If he did, what good would it do you? You wouldn't believe him for it, so you'd give it up, so you'd mess it up, so you'd walk away.
Moses is dead. "He always comes back. I'm sure he'll come back. He'll come back. He'll be wearing the veil over his face, but he'll come back. He always comes back. It's going to turn around any day now". They wait, and they wait, and they wait. The Bible says 30 days they waited for Moses. The typical waiting period was one week, but this is Moses. Moses gets at least a month. Right? How many agree? Let's put it to a church vote. How many think Moses, the one who led the nation 40 years, should get at least a month of mourning before they move on? They grieve 30 days. Now, I'm going to speculate that while they were crying over Moses, they were also looking for him. Don't you think? Reason with me. Millions of people in the wilderness. Only one person who has ever been able to call on food and feed them. Only one person who has ever been able to show them how to atone for their sin. There's only one Moses. One Moses, one month.
I think they probably sent out search parties. I do. I'll use my sanctified imagination to break this Bible verse down really quickly. I think they were like, "All right. You go look for him over there, and you go look for him over there". See, we don't typically have as much of a ritualistic culture about these moments of transition, but to these people, the burial ceremony was tightly prescribed. I mean, the way they did it was central to their need for closure and their processing of grief. How do you grieve a body you can't find the grave for? How do you grieve the loss of a hope you can't really articulate? "I just feel like something is missing".
How do you grieve the fact that "I don't know where the grave is. Somewhere along the way I started talking myself out of seeing miracles, and I can't find the grave. I don't know what day it happened. I can't tell you it was 9:37 a.m. I can't tell you any of that. I'm grieving over something I can't find the grave for". "I don't know why I don't trust people anymore, but I just don't. I don't know why I won't let anybody new in my life, but I just won't. I don't know why I don't even talk back to the Devil when he starts telling me I'm worthless, but now I just agree with him to get him to quit. I don't know when I stopped thinking, 'At some point, I am going to get through this.' Maybe it was the third time or the fourth time I went to rehab. But there's something I'm grieving, and I can't show you the grave".
I want to tell you God knows where the grave is, and only God knows where the grave is. That's why in this season people can only help you so much. I'm telling you, in this season, you can read books, but books can only do so much. This is a season where you need the author. This is a season where you need the generator. This is a season where you need the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who knows where you laid your hope, who knows where you lost your faith, who knows where you gave up your edge, who knows where you surrendered to the addiction, who knows where you gave up the glory because of the grief. "It's over now. He's not coming back. We've looked everywhere for him. It's over now. We've got to move on. It's over now". "What will we do without him"? "I don't know, but it's over now. We sent everybody everywhere we could. Apparently, God is just as good at hiding as he is seeking, because we have millions of people and one Moses, and we've been looking one month". I don't know who this is for, but the Lord said, "It has been a month".
Oh, the architecture of this verse. It's just as important as the application, so please bear with me as I try to get it to you like God gave it to me. It was so important how they said it. It said in verse 8, "The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab one month…" Moses, Moab, month. To leave Moab and go forward into Canaan, they had to accept the death of Moses, and they mourned him one month, until… Watch this. (Oh yeah, they got it up there. I'm so glad they got it up there. Y'all don't bring your Bibles, and I don't want you on your phone while I'm preaching. I don't want you having that distraction factory right there in front of your face while I'm preaching, because somebody is going to text you, and it's going to tear you out of this message. The Lord is trying to preach, and it's going to distract you. You can't multitask as well as you think you can. I don't care if you are a woman. So put your eyes on the screen.)
They grieved in the plains of Moab one month. One Moses, one month. "…until the time of weeping and mourning was over". He didn't say the feeling of mourning was over, but he said it's time to move forward. "But I don't feel like moving forward". I'm not preaching about feelings today. I'm preaching about faith. To move forward when you're not finished, to move forward when it still doesn't make sense, to move forward when you still have questions, and the questions are now not only unanswered, but the questions have had baby questions, and you can't figure any of it out. The Lord says the feeling wasn't over, but the period of mourning was over. You've got to move now.
If it's for three people God sent me to preach this to, I'm preaching to you right now. If you're not even in the room with me, I'm preaching it to you right now. It's over. No, no, no. You heard that like cruel. I don't mean it cruel. You heard it like, "Stop crying" or "Don't go to therapy" or "Don't tell anybody" or "Just act like it didn't happen". I did not say any of that. I'm just saying that the time for you staying in Moab, looking for a Moses who isn't coming back, looking for a season of your life that was awesome but is over, looking for somebody to apologize… They've already moved to Cancun. It's over. Scrolling through Facebook, wondering "What are they up to now"? It's over. Delete the app and live your life. You did what you could. You waited a month. You've been down there thinking, "Oh, I'm so holy. I'm mourning over this".
Oh, I love the Bible verse. It says weeping may endure for a night, but I came with an announcement that joy comes in the morning! It's over! We're going forward! Forward with our shirttails out, forward with our tear-stained faces, forward with our unanswered questions, forward with our unfinished faith…forward! High-five 18 people and say, "Forward"! That's where I'm going. Forward! Don't know how. Forward! Don't know who's going to be there. Forward! I'll send you a postcard. Forward! I'm going to make something of this next season. Forward! This year I'm growing. Forward! It's over! I've been by this pool 38 years. I reckon I'm ready to get up. I have somebody to help me now. Y'all are like, "That's not in the text". Oh, I left one thing out.
Verse 9: "Now Joshua…" No more Moses. "Did you look for him up there"? "Yeah, I looked over there. No Mo. I looked for him over here. No Mo. I went back; I texted him. No Mo. I went back; I tried to ask him to have me back. No Mo". For every "No Mo" in your life, there is a "Now Joshua" that God has been developing. I took my Deuteronomy pill this morning, y'all. Now Joshua… Look at this verse. This is anointed. "Now Joshua son of Nun…" Where you see none, God says now. Where you see no way God says, "Now, watch me make a way. Let me through. Make some space. Make some room". Lift up your heads, all ye gates, and let the way maker through! No Moses, but there is more. The Devil told you, "No more. No more. No more".
He was wrong, because you're moving forward. You're not finished. You're moving forward. You're not finished. It's not a midlife crisis; it's a midlife cocoon. You're changing in there. You're transforming in there. You're coming out with wings. You're coming out with wisdom. You're coming out with the will of God. I'm coming forward with the weapons of praise and a double-edged sword in my mouth! Let my future go, Devil! Now Joshua! I saw this one time before. I saw one time before where they thought it was over. I saw this one time before. You heard it like this when I said it: "It's over now". You heard it like this: "It's over now". It's all it has been telling you. "It's over now. You're not going to change. If you were going to change, you'd change by now. If you were going to do it, you'd do it by now. If it was going to happen, it would happen by now. It's over now". The Lord said it, but he said it differently. He said, "It's over. Period. Now…" It's over. The period of mourning is over.
Now Joshua… "Send for Jesus. Lazarus is sick. Jesus loves Lazarus. Jesus will come for us. We hosted him in our home. He'll come for us. I cooked chicken for Jesus. He'll come help Lazarus. Send for Jesus". The Bible says something really crazy in John 11:4. It says that when Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, he said, "This sickness will not end in death. It is for God's glory". Do you want to know the plot of your story? I just gave it to you right there: God's glory. He's getting ready to get some glory out of this so he can show a generation what a chain breaker is. Oh, some sermons you just want to stay in all day. I just want to stay in this one for a moment. They said, "Go get Jesus. We need Jesus. We tried the doctors. The doctors can't do it. We prayed about it. Prayer didn't fix it. We medicated him. Medication wouldn't do it. Send for Jesus".
The Bible says something that's kind of like what it said in Deuteronomy 34:9, "Now Joshua…" Look at verse 5 of John 11, for what is said in Joshua is echoed in John. It says, "Now Jesus…" Now Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. He loved Mary, even though she was lazy, and Martha, even though she was bossy, and Lazarus, even though he was sick. Now Jesus… You think you did something he can't fix? You think you have something he hasn't seen? You think you're going through something he doesn't know the way through? You think you're working through something God can't heal, that he hasn't already worked out? Now Jesus loved Lazarus even to the point of death, even when his body was stinking, even when the maggots made their home in his eye sockets. I know it's gross. That's how God is. That's how far his love reaches. That's how far he'll dip down to get you.
Now Jesus loved them very much, so verse 6, when he heard about Lazarus' sickness, he stayed where he was until it had been four days. "It's over. He's dead now. Tell Jesus, 'Don't bother.'" About the time they told Jesus Lazarus was dead, he told Peter, "All right. Now I'm going". Peter was the one who would get in Jesus' face and contradict his logic as God. Peter said, "Now, Jesus, you know it's not good for you to go back there. They're trying to kill you in the region, and Martha might kill you if the scribes don't because you're late". Now Jesus. Martha comes running out to meet Jesus. She doesn't even let him get inside the town. She got there really quick. She said, "If you had been here, my brother wouldn't have died". "God, if you would have done it, maybe I wouldn't have lost my son. If you would have done it, maybe I wouldn't have turned to the pills. If you had rescued me from that abuse, maybe I wouldn't struggle with this now. If you'd done it…"
But through her tears of grieving, she said something powerful. "Even now I know God will give you whatever you ask". But there's more to the story. Look at verse 29. When Mary heard that Jesus was there, when she heard that he was asking, she got up quickly. You don't have time to figure everything out before you walk in faith. You need to put the appointment on the calendar for this week. You hear me? You need to take a step toward it this week. You need to flush it before the halftime show today. You don't have time to be in your tears talking about what God can't transform because he's out of time. He is fashionably late. He is faithfully late. He may not have come when you wanted him, but that doesn't mean it's over.
So, she gets up quickly. Get ready for this. Verse 30 lit me up. It says, "Now Jesus…" "I need you now, Jesus! I need you in this moment". "Now Jesus…" You have a dead situation, but you have a now Jesus. You have a sick heart, but you have a now Jesus. You have a weary soul, but you have a now Jesus. I have a now Jesus. I have a third-day Jesus, a fourth-day Jesus, a generational Jesus, a Jesus who was the Word in the beginning, and he won't fail me now. I have a now Jesus, and when he says, "Take me to the place where you laid the body," he already knows where the grave is. He has just been waiting on you to take him there. He knows. You don't. But I'm going forward not knowing. He said, "If you believe, you'll see God's glory". Then he said, "Lazarus, come out," and they all sang "Rattle," in my version. Y'all don't have that version? You know what, church?
I was reading the last chapter of Deuteronomy before I came over here to do our anniversary service…17 years. I didn't even think about it, but the guy I had come preach was 17 years older than me, and my oldest son who I'm dedicating this series to is 17. When I want to understand why y'all as a church are acting wild, I just look at him and remember that's the stage we're at, and I'm going to try not to kill you. I love him so much, because he started me in this club. If he had started on any other day, I wouldn't have read Deuteronomy 34. I read it, and I closed it, because I thought, "That's sad. I want to have an anniversary, and I'm reading about Moses looking on the mountain and dying. God, are you telling me I'm not going to see the things you promised me because I don't have faith"?
I came to church. I was back there talking to my guest, and they came over. I felt bad because they were bugging him. They said, "You sent us a bunch of different sermon titles. Which one are you going to do"? He said, "I think I'm leaning toward the one that says 'This Is Not Your Final Chapter.'" Y'all, look at what the next book of my Bible was. Hold on. It's coming into focus just like your purpose is right now. Seventeen and 17, and it's Deuteronomy 34, and I wrote a song that says, "There's so much more to the story" with Chandler and Ben and Naomi, and we sang it and called it "More Than Able" and did an Ephesians Bible study called Immeasurably More, and you think God is done with you because Moses is gone?
Now Joshua. Now Jesus. Now unto him who is able to do… I hope y'all like this song, because I'm going to be preaching Joshua. We're going to be singing this. Close your eyes for a moment and receive it. You're not done with me yet, There's so much more to the story… I declare a chapter 1 in your life today. With God there's always a way, and by faith we're going to find it. We have a missing Moses, but we have a living God. We have a living hope! We have a living Word! I call dreams forth. Now Jesus! I call freedom forth. Now Jesus! I call purpose forth. Now Jesus! I call healing of your broken heart forth. It's over! Now Jesus! The past is over, and all things are made new!